From Spore Series

DarkSpore fact sheet

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Product Description
Darkspore is a fast-paced and intense sci-fi Action-RPG in which you become embroiled in a desperate struggle to save the galaxy from an ancient and powerful evil.

Recruit the best warriors from across the galaxy to build your creature arsenal and collect hundreds of distinctive creature characters, each with their own unique abilities, to wield as your living weapons. Take direct control of your creatures as they descend to the surface of infected planets to battle hordes of enemies and drive back the forces of Darkspore.

Your enemies are diverse and dangerous – in order to defeat them you will need to employ the full range of your creature arsenal and strategically decide which creatures to deploy for each battle.

Collect new weapons and armor to augment your creatures’ abilities and turn them into a more powerful fighting force. Use the award-winning Spore Creature Editor to customize your own unique creature characters, and trade with other players to complete your arsenal.

Play through the epic sci-fi campaign solo or co-operatively, join forces with friends to take on the forces of Darkspore, or battle your friends head-to-head in fast-paced competitive arena battles.

Key Features

  • COLLECT an arsenal of hundreds of different creatures and wield them as your living weapons
  • CHOOSE strategically which creatures to send into battle against the forces of Darkspore
  • COMBAT hordes of infected enemies and massive bosses in fast-paced, intense action
  • JOIN FORCES, trade or compete with up to three other players in co-op campaign mode or up to eight other players in PvP mode
  • EXPAND THE UNIVERSE with DLC to unlock rare creatures, new planets and new features

*INTERNET CONNECTION required.  See product pack or digital distribution rules for details.

Product Specifications

Publisher:   Electronic Arts Inc.
Developer:  Maxis Studio
Ship Date:  Spring 2011
Category:    Action RPG
Rating:        Rating Pending

GameSpot – DarkSpore Impressions: first look

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One more to add:

The plot in Darkspore sounds very grandiose and involves an experiment by an ancient race of omnipotent beings known as the “Crogenitors,” who created all living DNA in the universe but experimented with a new “exponential DNA” that was unusually powerful but highly unstable. It seems that one ambitious member of this mysterious group not only fused the unstable DNA with his own, increasing his own power substantially, but also created an army of monsters powered by this new genetic material that destroyed most of the other Crogenitors, leaving the last few survivors to flee to deep space with a squadron of heroes stuck in a cryogenic slumber until a solution to the problem could be deduced by the powerful computers of those last remaining DNA architects.

As the game begins, the solution to the exponential DNA invasion has been found: You. You awaken from your sleep as a genetically enhanced hero with the power to oppose the invasion head-on, and fortunately, you won’t be alone. Rather than force you to focus on developing a single character that belongs to a single character class with a limited skillset, Darkspore will actually let you select a team of three different hero creatures to take into battle and will also let you gather a huge collection of alternate heroes for you to use and develop as you see fit.

full preview at GameSpot

Destructoid – DarkSpore first look preview

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This a chaotic game and one which was designed to be a cooperative experience. Up to four players may team up against the Darkspore, with incremental difficulty and loot rewards for higher player counts. At the end of stages, players are given the choice of walking away with their prize or pressing on for better kit. Players who choose not to participate simply drop out of the game while the rest go forth. Since the game has no experience system, good loot is the only way to increase the abilities of your Living Weapons, which will no doubt factor into more than a few decisions.

The Spore Creature Creator has been remade entirely to support the new graphics engine Darkspore is using. It’s used to customize the look of your Living Weapons, giving it that player creation feel which so enchanted many fans of Spore. Most changes are only cosmetic, but that doesn’t make it any less fun to play dress-up with your creatures.

continue on reading over at Destructoid

DarkSpore first look from GamePro

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Another preview to add to the mix, this time from GamePro!

What you need to know:

  • There’s a lot of Diablo to it. Players control one creature at a time in a team of three and navigate dungeons entirely by clicking where they want their creature to go or what they want it to attack. There are some nominal button presses to change creatures or use special attacks. The whole point of the game, says Maxis, is fat loots.
  • There’s also some Left 4 Dead and some Torchlight. Darkspore can be played solo, but the game is intended for co-op and player versus player. The developers looked at Left 4 Dead and Torchlight to craft monsters that force co-op buddies to stick close to each other and create levels that tempt them to split up.
  • But wait, there’s Magic, too. One of the new developers at Maxis comes to them from Wizards of the Coast and he brought some experience from Magic: The Gathering to Darkspore in the form of collectible fat loots for upgrading creatures, balance-of-power ideas for the different types of monster (ranged, tank, healer), and a double-or-nothing system (see below).
  • The freshest idea here is the double-or-nothing system. Once players complete a level and receive a point ranking on each of the objectives they did or didn’t accomplish, they are offered a choice — take one piece of fat loot and finish the level or continue to a different level that’s way harder for the chance to win two pieces of even fatter loot. Lose that second level, though, and you don’t get anything.
  • It’s an always-online game. You can fiddle with item management and maybe a bit of character customization via the game’s website, but this is a product that requires an internet connection to play.

JoyStiq – DarkSpore preview from EA Showcase 2010

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That’s right — although based off of Spore (but running on a brand-new engine) the game won’t have you controlling your own creations. The Creature Creator does return, however, and is used in customizing the placement of the various upgrades.

When choosing to beam down from your starship to a planet, you will see a lineup of enemy types that you’ll encounter. This gives you and your friends enough information to decide which three characters from your collection you’ll want to deploy. The trio can then be switched between on the fly, albeit with a brief cool-down period afterward. The idea is to use the characters’ various abilities strategically against what the Left 4 Dead-inspired “AI director” decides to toss your way.

Darkspore’s player creatures also have certain abilities that, in multiplayer, can be used by everyone playing. Creatures with a “haste” ability will automatically make nearby players move faster, for instance.

As you can probably tell, Maxis isn’t venturing very far from established territory with Darkspore, although it is a relatively unexplored space for the developer. This can either work in its favor, should it use its fresh set of eyes to spot unique new gameplay possibilities, or work against it if — as is the vibe I’m getting now — it decides to stick pretty close to familiar genre conventions.

preview here

1Up – DarkSpore preview

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A 2 page preview on DarkSpore which goes in-depth on how the game plays out – a must read!

The main carry-over from Spore is the Creature Creator (often described as the Spore’s best feature). Said Creator serves as the underlying technology for every character in the game — whether it’s a player-controlled genetic hero or an A.I.-enemy. In fact, said Creature Creator tech allows for rapid character creation. Lead producer Thomas Vu states, “We can make guys really really fast.” Systems designer Paul Sottosanti adds, “Things that would take three weeks for another company to make — to model and animate properly from the ground up — we skip almost all of that and get a guy into the game in under a day.”

One interesting effect: the genetic heroes will be hand-designed by Maxis personnel, but there will be numerous contests for users to use Spore’s Creature Creator to create enemies in the game for Maxis to include (in addition to the enemies created internally). Executive producer Thomas Perry wouldn’t finalize how many or how often these contests would happen, but at least there will be a way for players and fans to contribute to the final game. It might not be the free-for-all procedurally populated madness of Spore (so don’t expect to fight a planet of penis monsters), but this more-gated method might result in better quality.

full preview at 1UP